How to Start Modelling in The UK

by Temiloluwa Alagbe
88 views 7 minutes read
Models on the runway.

The UK modelling scene is a launchpad for international careers, a platform for social change, and a creative outlet for people with a passion for self-expression. However, entering into the glamorous world of modelling can seem daunting. Well, you need not worry because this comprehensive guide to launching your modelling career will equip you with the knowledge you need to navigate the exciting world of modelling in the UK.

Who is a Model?

When we talk about models, our minds immediately go to the stunning individuals strutting runways or gracing magazine covers but modelling goes beyond that. Simply put, models are individuals who use their physical appearance to promote products, services, or concepts. Depending on the model’s niche, the products could include fashion products, cosmetic and hair products, fragrances and perfume products, and even photography services. In summary, models use their features to advertise a variety of products.

What Do Models Do?

A model’s job typically involves attending casting calls and creating a strong work portfolio. Because modelling is centred around physical appearances, models put a lot of time and energy into maintaining their bodies. The modelling career is very diverse and as such, models can work with stylists, photographers, makeup artists, and directors. Models usually get modelling jobs in different parts of the world and as such, travelling is a part of a model’s job description.

Why Start a Modelling Career in The UK?

The United Kingdom is a great place to launch your modelling career mainly because of its thriving fashion scene. The country’s vibrant and diverse fashion industry creates plenty of work opportunities for models across various sectors. Additionally, the UK modelling scene is also diverse and inclusive, accommodating models of all skin and body types. Modelling in the UK is also a high-paying job that offers you the opportunity to gain fame and exposure.

What is The Best Age to Start Modelling in The UK?

The best age to begin your modelling career depends on your modelling niche. For example, fashion models are typically between the ages of 16 – 21 with age 16 being the minimum age requirement, fitness models are usually between the ages of 16 – 35 with no specific age requirements, and mature models are usually from 30 years and older. Fashion models usually have stricter rules because of their high aesthetic standards and large global influence. In essence, there’s no specific “best age” to start modelling. It all depends on your niche, physique, and personal goals.

How Much Do UK Models Get Paid?

The salary of a model is dependent on factors like the type of modelling job, age, experience, gender, and physical appearance. However, to serve as a guide, we can tell you that the average annual salary of a model ranges from £50,000 – £70,000.

Is it Easy to Become a Model in The UK?

In all sincerity, the UK’s modelling industry is pretty competitive and consequently, it can be difficult to get into. However, this doesn’t imply that all hope is lost. With the right advice, a genuine passion, and consistency, your chances of success in the UK’s modelling scene are high.

Requirements for Being a Model in The UK

Again, the requirements for modelling in the UK depend on your niche. However, here are a few general requirements:

1. Age requirements

Most modelling jobs will require you to be at least 16 years old. Any age younger than that will be considered child/teen modelling.

2. Height requirements

Height requirements are determined by niche options and gender. Here are the height requirements for some of the most popular modelling niches.

i) Fashion models

Female fashion models need to be at least 5’8″ with the minimum height requirement for male fashion models being 6’0.

ii) Commercial models

The minimum height requirement for female commercial models is 5’6″ and for males, it’s 5’11.

iii) Petite models

Petite models need a minimum height of 5’0 and a maximum height of 5’6.

iv) Plus-sized models

Plus-sized models usually don’t have height requirements.

3. Body requirements

The general body requirement for modelling is an attractive physical appearance which typically includes a toned body, clear skin, and healthy teeth. However, there may be some exceptions because some modelling niches are more inclusive than others. In other words, body requirements are also dependent on your niche.

4. Versatility and professionalism

Because concepts, objectives, and ideas are constantly changing, modelling jobs can be pretty unpredictable. Models need to be able to adapt to new environments, themes, and instructions. In addition to being versatile, a model must maintain professionalism at all times.

5. Teamwork and confidence

Teamwork and confidence are also part of the skill set of a good model. As a model, you need to be able to work well with designers, directors, stylists, photographers, and other models. You also need to radiate fierceness and confidence and as such, being timid is not an option.

How to Start Modelling in The UK

1. Know your measurements

To successfully start a modelling career, you need to know yourself as well as the industry. You will need to have accurate knowledge of your height, waist, bust, and hip measurements when seeking modelling jobs. Knowing your measurements will also help you choose the right modelling niche.

2. Choose a modelling niche

The next thing to do is to choose the type of modelling you want to get into. Because modelling is very broad with diverse career opportunities, you have to decide on the path you want to walk as a model. Here are some factors to consider before choosing a modelling niche:

  • Your physique (body structure and height).
  • Your age.
  • Your passion and interests.
  • Growth and learning opportunities.
  • Demand and competition.

In any case, to ensure that you have no reason for regret, you should thoroughly research the various modelling niches before deciding the one to stick with.

3. Research your niche

Yes, we know you conducted thorough research before you picked your niche but now that you have chosen a modelling niche, you need to learn all there is to know about. Choosing a career path is a critical decision and this is why you need to get your facts straight before making the decision. We’ll help by providing you with a list of important information that you should seek:

  • Profitability.
  • Industry trends, demand, and competition.
  • Body and age requirements.
  • Theme and style.
  • Specialized agencies.
  • Digital presence.

An additional tip is to attend industry-related events and workshops or even take some online modelling courses to ensure that you are fully prepared for the world you are about to enter.

4. Build your body

Ensure your body looks its best by making a conscious effort to take care of it. Exercise, get enough rest, and develop an effective skincare routine because, in the modelling world, appearances are everything. Increase your chances of success by toning your body to meet all the requirements.

5. Practice creates perfection

Develop your modelling skills by practising your killer pose or confident catwalk in the mirror. Modelling is a very competitive career path and for this reason, you need to stand out from the crowd by bringing your best foot forward. Work on your posture, facial expressions, and confidence by practising in front of the camera or your mirror or even taking modelling lessons.

6. Build a strong portfolio

At this stage, you have completed the planning phase and are now at the early stages of the initiation phase and building a strong portfolio is the place to start. You don’t have to wait till you start getting modelling jobs to build a portfolio. If you decided to wait, you’d be waiting a long time because agencies need to see proof of your modelling skills. Hire a photographer and take some stunning photos that will convince agencies that you are just what they need.

7. Find a good agency to represent you

While it isn’t mandatory to have a modelling agent, it is highly recommended, especially for a beginner in the industry. Modelling agents help you navigate the modelling scene by getting you jobs, giving you professional advice, and getting you connected with the right people. However, finding a good agent or agency can be tricky as there are many scams out there. Here are some useful tips for seeking out reputable and legitimate agencies:

  • The most effective tip is to choose from agencies registered with the British Association of Model Agents.
  • Upfront fees are always a red flag.
  • Thoroughly research your options (find out their specialization, reputation, and modelling success stories).
  • Attend open calls.
  • Beware of unreasonable commissions and working terms.
  • Ensure you have a complete understanding of any contract(s) you sign.
  • Consult a lawyer (seek legal advice).
  • Watch out for unprofessionalism. Legitimate agencies will always be professional in their communications and operations.
  • Verify contact information.
  • Most importantly, trust your instincts. If something feels off or too good to be true, it probably is.

8. Leverage social media

Social media provides a boatload of opportunities to aspiring models as it gives you the avenue to be seen. Many people have gotten their first modelling jobs by posting dazzling pictures online. There are also many contests held on various social media platforms that will help kickstart your modelling career and to succeed as a model, you will need to take advantage of all these opportunities. Despite that, there are many scams online too and hence, you must tread carefully.

What are Modelling Agencies Looking For?

Modelling is a competitive field and for this reason, reputable modelling agencies have a truckload of applications. To stand out from the crowd, you need to know exactly what they seek. Fortunately, we can help with that. After thorough research, we can provide an overview of how modelling agencies assess models to give you an edge over many other aspiring models.

1. Physical appearance

Because modelling is centred around appearances, it makes sense that the first thing modelling agencies will assess is your appearance. Every part of your body, from your face to your feet, will be evaluated so it is best that you keep your body in top condition.

2. Confidence and charisma

Beyond physical appearances, modelling agencies also evaluate your demeanour. Your body language should exude confidence, elegance and charisma. When you walk into a room, you should be able to command the attention of everyone in the room while also being a pleasure to interact with.

3. Photogenic qualities

As a model, you should be able to exude the same confidence and grace even in photos. Modelling agencies look out for your ability to convey emotions through photos, especially for editorial or print models.

4. Versatility

Versatility is a valued trait in the modelling industry and for this reason, modelling agencies will prefer to work with multifaceted models. To increase your chances of being selected, your application should showcase your ability to adapt to different themes and concepts.

5. Marketability

Modelling agencies want to make a profit as much as you do and consequently, they will assess your marketability. Your physical appearance and qualities like confidence and versatility contribute to your marketability as a model. In other words, your looks and skills determine how often you will get jobs, therefore, determining your appeal to modelling agencies.

6. Social media presence

While it may not be a major agency requirement, having a strong online presence can certainly boost your chances of being scouted. Arm yourself with a strong online presence while also building a strong portfolio by posting creative content and stunning photos to grow your socials.

7. Professionalism

As a model, you are expected to remain professional at all times. As a result, modelling agencies also consider your level of professionalism. To succeed in the modelling world, you must be polite with a strong work ethic and a keen eye for details.

Do You Have to Pay to Be a Model in The UK?

No, you don’t have to pay to be a model in the UK because the law prohibits modelling agencies in the UK from charging any upfront fees. This is why you should be wary of any modelling agency that demands upfront fees of any kind. Legitimate modelling agencies will not require you to make any deposits. They make their money by collecting a certain percentage (about 10% – 20%) of the money you earn as a model. To find reputable modelling agencies, we recommend researching agencies that are registered with the British Association of Model Agents.

Do Beginner Models Get Paid in The UK?

The answer is yes, beginner models can get paid in the UK. However, we will need you to lower your expectations because they are usually paid a small amount. Whether or not you get paid depends on the strength of your application. In essence, if your application is very promising, you are likely to get some paid modelling gigs. On the other hand, if your application isn’t as promising, you are likely to be compensated in other ways. Common compensation methods for beginner models include time for print (TFP), networking opportunities, and on-the-job training. Some modelling agencies offer royalties and service fees to beginner models too. On average, a beginner model in the UK makes about £30,000 per year.

Best Cities to Launch Your Modelling Career in The UK

1. London

Being the fashion capital (and the actual capital) of the United Kingdom, London has a flourishing modelling scene. The city hosts numerous fashion events, providing an endless stream of modelling jobs. London’s international reach can also open doors to global modelling opportunities.

2. Birmingham

While Birmingham may not hold the “fashion capital” title, it is a great place to launch your modelling career for various reasons. Like London, Birmingham also has a thriving fashion scene which in turn produces a substantial number of modelling jobs. Additionally, Birmingham has a lower cost of living and is more focused on nurturing new talent.

3. Manchester

Manchester also has a well-established fashion industry which translates to a blossoming modelling industry. In addition to having an established fashion scene, Manchester also has access to international markets making it possible for you to get global modelling jobs (although their reach is not as wide as London). The city also offers a relatively low cost of living.

4. Liverpool

Liverpool has a thriving fashion industry with a unique cultural heritage making room for diverse modelling job opportunities. The city also offers low costs of living and a close-knit modelling community, boosting your chances of collaboration and mentoring opportunities.

Modelling Agencies in London

Because of the diverse opportunities in London, ranging from modelling job opportunities to networking opportunities, it is the best city in the United Kingdom to start modelling. However, it is for this exact reason that the modelling scene in the UK is highly competitive and to navigate through the industry successfully, you need a good agency representing. Here’s a list of some of the best modelling agencies in London.

1. IMG Models

IMG Models is the world’s number one modelling agency and they have locations in Paris, London, Los Angeles, Milan, Sydney, and New York. Currently representing Gigi Hadid, one of the highest-paid supermodels, the modelling agency has gained a strong reputation. To send an application, you must first confirm that they are accepting applications. If they are, then you need to contact them via social media or go directly to one of their offices.

2. Elite Model Management

Elite Model Management is one of the biggest modelling agencies in London. The agency started in 1972 in Paris but with time (and growth), they opened locations in London, Milan, and New York. The agency has represented big names like Kendall Jenner, Adriana Lima, Naomi Campbell, and Veronica Webb so they must know what they are doing.

Elite modelling agency, however, is not only interested in representing professional models but they are also keen about nurturing new talent. All you need to do is to submit an online application form along with your best photos.

3. Premier Model Management

Premier Model Management is a modelling agency in London with the objective of developing and managing new talent. The agency was founded in 1981 by Carole White and Chris Owen and has represented top models like Naomi Campbell, Lara Stone, and Christy Turlington. The agency’s height requirement for female models is 5’8″ and for male models, it is 6’0″. To apply to this modelling agency, you have to fill out and submit an online application form (your headshot, side profile, and full length will be required in the form).

4. Storm Model Management

Storm Model Management is a modelling agency that has been in operation for over 35 years. During this time, they have managed to create a name for themselves as one of the world’s reputable agencies and have represented models like Naomi Campbell, Cara Delevingne, and Cindy Crawford. You can choose to apply online or walk into their nearest office to apply.

5. Next Management

Next Management is another leading modelling agency in London with clients like Anja Rubik, Molly Sims, and Arizona Muse. The agency has locations in London, Paris, Milan, Miami, New York, Los Angeles, and Madrid and although they have represented some of the biggest names in the modelling industry, they are still looking for new talent. While open calls have been suspended until further notice, you can still send an application online.

6. The Hive Management

The Hive Management is a smaller London-based modelling agency looking for fresh faces. Although they may not have the same visibility as the larger agencies mentioned above, they have a strong reputation in the industry and they are the perfect agency to represent you as a beginner model. Click here to begin the application process.

How You Get Signed into a Modelling Agency in The UK

We have already offered you some tips on how to stay ahead of the competition in the UK’s modelling scene. Now, you need to know what the whole process of getting signed entails in order to know what to expect.

The first stage is application submission. Once your application is submitted, it will be reviewed by the appropriate authorities in the agency. This processing period could take weeks or even months so don’t be surprised if you don’t get a response almost immediately. After your application has been evaluated, if the agency decides to work with you, they’ll reach out (often via email) to schedule a meeting with an agency representative. Upon meeting the agency representative, you will discuss the terms of your agreement with the agency and then you’ll sign the agreement contract! Once the signing is done, an arrangement has been made, and you are ready to work with that modelling agency.

Please remember to read through any contract you are presented with carefully and it is advisable to sign such contracts in the presence of a lawyer.

Tips to Get Scouted by a Modelling Agency

You now know what modelling agencies are looking for, the application review process, and some of the best modelling agencies in London. At this point, we are convinced that you are ready to begin your modelling career and consequently, we want to offer some additional parting tips.

1. Authenticity matters

Because we have previously stated that your pictures should convey fierceness, confidence, and elegance, it is easy to try to fake it. While we are not retracting that statement, it is important to remember to let your personality shine through. Your application photos should confidently portray your individuality and don’t forget to get creative with the concepts and themes.

2. Keep it simple

The modelling industry is very glamorous and for this reason, you may get the wrong idea that agencies are looking for extravagance. Looking effortlessly beautiful is the key to getting a modelling agency’s attention. Put on light make-up, wear simple and fitting outfits (some agencies suggest black for your figure to be more visible), and keep your hair simple and cute (choose hairstyles that flatter your face shape but avoid hairstyles that cover it altogether because agencies will want to see your face structure too). In any case, always remember to let your natural beauty shine.

3. Be relatable

Many agency application forms will request your social media handles. It is not a very strategic move to fill your socials with only pictures from shoots. Many times, the purpose of asking for your social media handles is to get a glimpse at your life outside modelling and to gauge your online presence. While it is not a bad idea to post some of your shoot pictures on social media, ensure you also include some personal photos like you grabbing a cup of coffee or getting your hair done. According to former IMG president, Ivan Bart, successful models aren’t just an image, they are people with a personality and drive.

4. Be patient

Starting a successful modelling career in the UK requires a lot of dedication. From preparation for application to the application process to the early stages of your career, you will need to be very patient. Don’t be discouraged if you get rejected. Rather keep developing your skills and remain persistent and with time, you will get to where you want to be in your career.

5. Learn to communicate effectively

For you to grow as a model, you will need to develop effective communication skills as building the right relationships is an essential part of a model’s success. Healthy relationships with clients, team members, and even the general public are key ingredients to your success in the UK’s modelling scene.

Conclusion

The modelling industry in the UK is filled with life, vibrancy, diversity, promise…and competition. But hey, competitions are meant to be won right? Persistence and dedication are the keys to rising above the competition and acing it as a model in the United Kingdom. While beginning your modelling journey, remember to hone your skills, cultivate your individuality, and flaunt that beautiful body with elegance and finesse.

Image Credits: All images on this website are sources from Getty Images, Pexels and Unsplash.

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